A hunger epidemic is sweeping Britain leading the SNP to question the
future viability of the Union
Scottish News: News in Scotland - Thursday
Independence: questions over Westminster rule as Britain experiences hunger epidemic
The SNP has questioned Westminster rule after it was revealed that half a million people in Britain are now forced to use food banks so avoid becoming hungry and destitute. A new report by Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty has shown that there has been a dramatic, three fold - rise in the number of individuals and families who are now unable to properly feed themselves due to wage cute, the squeeze on benefits and the UK's economic decline. Expressing their alarm at the dramatic rise in Britain's "hidden hungry", the report warns that the numbers will continue to rise sharply and points to errors within the benefit system as also causing "food uncertainty" among Britain's poorest families. Jamie Hepburn MSP, Deputy Convener of the Scottish parliament's Welfare reform Committee, said: "This report shows the enormity of the scale of extreme poverty in the UK caused by the Westminster system's austerity agenda...Food banks do a vital service but it is completely unforgivable that this is the state UK society is in. Half a million people being forced to queue up for food donations as a direct result of the Westminster system's draconian austerity measures is nothing short of sickening...While the UK government continues down this road, making the poor poorer, and the anti-independence No campaign tries to tell the people of Scotland that this is as good as it gets, more than ever it is clear that only a Yes vote in September 2014 can make Scotland a fairer country to live, work and raise a family."
Unionists attack ‘yes’ campaign over independence ‘start up costs’
Yes Scotland has come under fire for claiming the costs of establishing an independent state would be less than £300mn. In a video issued yesterday, the pro independence campaign stated that the "initial start-up costs" of breaking away from the UK would be covered by saving £250mn on Trident, and a further £50mn from getting rid of Westminster. In a statement issued on behalf of the Better Together campaign, Scots Tory deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said it was "simply untrue" the apparatus of a new state would cost as little as £300mn. He said: "Many new agencies would need to be established and paid for if we go it alone and this would cost hundreds of millions of pounds”. However a Scottish government spokesman said: "Any one off costs of transition would be completely outweighed by the benefits that would accrue to Scotland as a result of independence”. The row has come as Alex Salmond's economic advisers hit back at criticism of their plan to keep the pound in a currency union with the UK – a move that has been criticised by economists in light of several UK economic downgrades.
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Independence: tribal atmosphere of referendum campaign condemned
Personal abuse and attacks on individuals and politicians in relation to next year's referendum campaign have been condemned by leading figures on both sides of the debate. Recent comments by pro-independence supporters in relation to Sir Chris Hoy were condemned by the SNP. Mr Hoy was described on social media and blog sites as "a traitor" and an "uncle Tom" after expressing the belief that Scottish Olympians would find it harder to reach the top if Scotland becomes independent. However, Unionist parties appear to be using their favoured position in the Scottish media to portray the problem as a pro-independence one despite the fact, as the SNP points out, that Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has received death threats on Twitter. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said in relation to the Sir Chris Hoy incident: “The Nationalists seek to silence everyone they disagree with. If this is the kind of Scotland we’ll get with independence, I am sure even more will reject the Nationalists’ plans.” The attempt to make political capital out of the issue will, observers fear, deepen rather than resolve the problem. The majority of Scots feel shut out of the independence debate because of the us-and-them atmosphere which appears fostered by tribal party loyalists.
UK crisis: UK growth revised down by OECD
Cuts and a subdued consumer and business confidence will continue to inhibit the UK's economic performance, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has warned. The OECD has reduced its UK growth forecast from 1.6 percent in 2014 to just 1.4 percent. However the Paris-based think tank has given its support to Chancellor George Osborne's cuts programme arguing: "With a high budget deficit and gross government debt rising to 90% of GDP in 2012, further fiscal consolidation is necessary to restore the sustainability of public finances." An increasing number of economists believe that neither austerity nor stimulus can return an economy which is in a debt bubble to growth, and argue for a debt restructuring programme to instead allow people and companies to save, invest and spend.
Value of the US dollar continues to decline
Although the US dollar remains the foreign reserve currency of choice, a new International Monetary Fund analysis shows that the currency has slumped to a 15 year low, heightening further concerns over the health of the global economy. The repercussions of the dollar’s decline as the foreign reserve currency could have dramatic consequences for America’s global economic standing. With a budget deficit exceeding $1tn per year, if the dollar were to continue to decline against other currencies, the US would find it increasingly difficult to pay back this debt. Although the dollar currently constitutes 62 percent of the $6tn in foreign holdings by the world’s central banks, Dick Bove, vice president of equity research at Rafferty Capital Markets says the dollar’s actual percentage of total money supply worldwide has gone from 90 percent in 1952 to about 15 per cent today.
Syrian rebels turn on their political leaders
Syrian rebel groups have strongly criticised their political leadership outside Syria, saying it has no real connection to the rebellion - calling instead for half of its members to be drawn from fighters inside the country. The move is likely to further undermine the standing of the opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad which has been treated by its western backers as if it were capable of replacing Mr Assad and its regime. The chaos in opposition ranks is also likely to discredit the EU decision to end the arms embargo on supplying weapons to the rebels. Meanwhile, inside Syria elite troops are being sent to reinforce the government offensive against the town of Qusayr outside Homs, near the Lebanese border.
Syria: arms race continues as Russian missiles arrive
The Syrian government has received a first shipment of an air defence system from Russia, President Bashar al-Assad is reported as saying. The development is a further sign of an growing arms race and comes as the EU lifts an arms embargo on the war-torn country. Russia has been concerned about western involvement in supporting the increasingly divided insurgents and argues that the missiles will help stabilize the regional balance. Around 80,000 people have died since hostilities started and there are around 1.5 million refugees.
US soldier who massacred 16 Afghan villagers is to plead guilty
The US Army staff sergeant charged with senselessly killing 16 villagers in the Afghanistan war will plead guilty to avoid the death penalty, his attorney has told The Associated Press. The killings aroused such angry protests that the US had to temporarily halt combat operations in Afghanistan – with three weeks before US investigators could reach the crime scenes. Any plea deal must now be approved by the judge as well as the commanding general at the US base where Bales is being held. However the massacre has raised serious questions about the toll multiple deployments were taking on US troops, and for that reason, many legal experts have believed it unlikely that he would receive the death penalty.
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